Pray and Care for One Another and Your Neighbor
Some THOUGHTS, SCRIPTURE, and PRAYERS to Love and Care for One Another and Our Neighbors
1. Pray - In times of uncertainty and anxiety, the Church is called to pray. Earlier this week, we read Philippians 4 together for those following the Daily Office. Philippians 4:4-7 "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Here is a specific prayer that a friend shared with me:
"Almighty God, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ went about doing good, and healing all manner of sickness and disease among the people. Continue in our hospitals and research centers his gracious work among us especially those ministering to people affected by the novel coronavirus; console and heal the sick; grant to the researches, physicians, nurses, and assisting staff wisdom and skill, diligence and patience; prosper their work, O Lord, and send down your blessing upon all who serve the suffering; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
2. Life Together - We are called to remain connected in our life together with one another and with our neighbors. I would say that we need to be more proactive about connection as the temptation to isolate due to fear increases. Even those who may face quarantine, must not be isolated and lonely. Think about the numerous ways we can stay connected - e-mail, text-messages, audio phone calls, video phone calls, video-conferencing, and even post-it notes on a door. Reach out to one another in ways that are wise. Think especially about those in your community group and where you live who may be isolated. Reach out to them. Ask how you can help and what they might need. If you know of a specific need, please inform our church leadership. Many of us are going to have extra time on our hands. We can help out with errands, grocery runs, etc. for those in need, who are older, children home from school, and others at risk. Ask the Lord to guide us in generosity, sharing, and neighborliness rather than fear, hoarding, and isolation.
3. Share & Serve - Many in our community will be impacted by the precautions being put in place to slow the spread of this virus. For those without a financial safety net, these weeks could be catastrophic. I'm thinking of hourly laborers, small-business owners, commission and tip-based workers, and many others. Let's be intentional about supporting them and sharing with them. If you know someone in this category, make sure to reach out and invite them for a meal. Ask how you can help. I am going to be reaching out to two our our local outreach partners for guidance - Sparrow's Nest and the Ark. I want to find out how we can help, serve, and support them as we serve our community together.
4. Redeem the Time - What are you planning to do with the extra time you may find yourselves with over the next few weeks? I would encourage us to receive them as a gift. Rest, play, pray, study!
I was reminded earlier today of one of the Medieval saints of the Church, Julian of Norwich. She lived at St. Julian's Church in Norwich in a small, cloistered monastic cell as an anchoress. The city itself was frequently visited by plague. She was ill also and remain confined to her quarters. People would come to seek spiritual counsel from her and even her food was passed to her through the door. She took this opportunity to read and pray. In the midst of her own illness and suffering, she found comfort in the all-surpassing love of God. Contemporary Anglican Poet Malcom Guite wrote this sonnet:
Julian of Norwich
Show me, O anchoress, your anchor-hold
Deep in the love of God, and hold me fast.
Show me again in whose hands we are held,
Speak to me from your window in the past,
Tell me again the tale of Love's compassion
For all of us who fall onto the mire,
How he is wounded with us, how his passion
Quickens the love that haunted our desire.
Show me again the wonder of at-one-ment
Of Christ-in-us distinct and yet the same,
Who makes, and loves, and keeps us in each moment,
And looks on us with pity, not with blame.
Keep telling me, for all my faith may waver,
Love is his meaning, only love, forever.
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